Cedric Akbar: Community advocate and catalyst for positive change in San Francisco

Cedric-Akbar-in-his-office-at-Positive-Directions-Equals-Change-3rd-Newcomb-by-Kevin-Epps-1400x1050, Cedric Akbar: Community advocate and catalyst for positive change in San Francisco, Local News & Views
Cedric Akbar in his office at Positive Directions Equals Change at Third and Newcomb in downtown Bayview Hunters Point – Photo: Kevin Epps

by Kevin Epps

This past week I sat down with Cedric Akbar, candidate for the AD 17 (Assembly District 17) San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) in the March 5 election. I met at his office in the heart of Bayview Hunters Point, where he is the executive director of Positive Directions Equals Change.

That organization has been on the frontlines providing comprehensive services to justice-involved individuals dealing with addiction, mental health and rehabilitation, as well as a range of support options and a commitment to long-term client success. 

I asked Cedric about his reasons for running for elected office and how leading a drug rehabilitation center prepared him for transition into the political lane and a run for this position, which is totally different from the work he’s doing. 

“The position I’m running for is not a paid position; it’s a position to be able to hold the mayor and supervisors accountable, and that is the most important thing to me,” says  Cedric. “What brought me to this platform is by being a community servant first and foremost – that’s what I do – and our main focus is substance abuse, but it’s much more than that. 

“If Miss Mabel comes to our door and needs to pay her PG&E bill, whether she has the resources to pay it or not, we work with her to get resources to pay it, to help her,” he explained. 

“Another example is, a lot of people often send their kids to us after school, so this place is like a childcare and school at the same time. Our public schools are horrible. I believe in community schools, why do our kids have to go all the way across the city to go to school? So changing that to be more community oriented is one of my priorities. 

Cedric-Akbar-talks-with-Allen-Harven-Case-Manager-TRP-Academy-Westside-Community-Services-@-Positive-Directions-Equals-Change-by-Kevin-Epps-1400x1050, Cedric Akbar: Community advocate and catalyst for positive change in San Francisco, Local News & Views
Cedric Akbar talks with Allen Harven, case manager for TRP Academy, a project of Westside Community Services. – Photo: Kevin Epps

“The reality is, I want to bring truth and integrity back into this process because it’s not there. We get lied to all the time. Enough is enough! The process for people to get housing is terrible. 

“I’m a behind-the-scenes type of guy. If I see something that needs to get fixed, we get together and we get it done.” 

“Cedric Akbar’s work speaks for itself,” says Arieanne Harrison of the Marie Harrison Community Foundation. “Cedric is rooted in what’s going on on the ground. It’s not about what he says, but about what he does – and what he’s done. He’s been in the community for a very long time. His work has created outcomes for people, educationally and academically. He’s a good dude! His work is validated.”

“There are a lot of things that are happening in the community that I have access to, where a lot of people don’t, and that is very important,” Cedric declares. “If you as a community tell me something is going on, I’m gonna carry your message just like you said it, and if I don’t get it right then I’ll bring you with me.” 

Cedric believes that a thriving San Francisco starts within neighborhoods, and throughout his career he’s committed to enhancing the safety of the community by ensuring accountability among residents and government and now by running for elected office to champion practical policies that serve the unique needs of San Francisco’s diverse population. Voters should consider the impact that Cedric could have on shaping and fostering a more inclusive and thriving community for all.

The Bay View’s executive editor and Hunters Point’s favorite son, filmmaker Kevin Epps, is best known for the game-changing “Straight Outta Hunters Point” and for “Black Rock,” “Rap Dreams,” “Fam Bam” and more. He has collaborated on projects with Google, Yahoo, Discovery Channel, Current TV and a host of other media partners. He was awarded an artist fellowship by the world renowned de Young Museum. His passion for advocacy for his community is legendary. He can be reached at kevepps@gmail.com.